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Island: Orakel [2008] *

Track List

>Journey Through the Jewel
>River Source
>Ueber dem Thal
>White Ghoul, The

Album Notes

The elegantly beautiful cover art for Orakel almost suggests that Island will be a metal band in a quieter vein -- and then "Journey Through the Jewel" starts with loud as hell riffs and hoarse lyrics, so another familiar style is established. But Orakel, drawing on two separate sessions in 2003 and 2004, does soon shift into a now familiar combination of acoustic Nordic-folk beauty and electric rampage and mayhem, all elegantly arranged for the discerning ear. As a result, while neither strikingly different nor a lost classic, it's a damn good listen for those who like that branch of metal and a good enough introduction for those new to it. "Journey Through the Jewel" does have all the needed elements -- tempo shifts, roars, high drama in switches from quiet to loud. Most of the songs follow that as a model, which results in a fairly unvarying listen, but the details are more noticeable as a result -- the wordless chanting choruses near the conclusion of "Grund," for instance, or the dreamier blend of calmer singing and acoustic and electric elements in the midsection of "Serenity," one of the album highlights and possibly its best song. The later songs like "The White Ghoul" and the song "Island" itself tone down the hoarseness a bit, a subtle but still clear shift that, while again not resulting in any sort of surprise on the part of the band, makes for an attractive listen once more (though the sudden hollow thrash clatter of the drums at the end against the slower guitar parts is a neat if retrograde touch). "Orakel" itself steps away from this a bit by going all acoustic -- but perhaps appropriately it's also one of the album's two instrumentals, and as one of eight million descendants of similar Metallica songs it does the job very nicely. ~ Ned Raggett


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